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Pro-equality Christians happy with balance

Fri 1 Mar 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Margaret Mayman The national network Christians for Marriage Equality believes the concerns of some religious submitters have been balanced, with a Select Committee making it clear that the marriage equality bill will not diminish the freedom of religion of those who oppose it. It says the Committee's report and changes to the Bill also address the current situation in which churches that would like to treat gay and lesbian couples, and transgender persons, equally are not able to do so. The Select Committee report says of religious supporters: “Other people with religious convictions argue that marriage is foremost about celebrating the love shared between two people, and that their inability to marry same-sex couples constitutes a constraint on their freedom to practice their religion.” Christians for Marriage Equality spokesperson, Rev Dr Margaret Mayman, is delighted that the Select Committee has recognised this aspect of religious freedom. “We believe that discriminating against some couples is morally wrong and that our faith requires an ethic of inclusiveness and hospitality. “Marriage has a complex history and multiple meanings in religion and society. It has evolved through time to become a commitment between two people who love each other. And now that marriage is not determined by procreation, property transfer, or gender inequality, but by love, friendship, compassion and commitment, there is no reason to exclude people on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.” Mayman says the group also supports the Committee’s proposed amendment to make it clear that religious organisations which hold the view that marriage should only be between a man and a woman would not be required to marry same-sex couples, but hopes for a day when all people of faith will embrace gay and lesbian couples and their families. On the other side of the debate, the nation's Catholic Bishops say they are "disappointed" that the Select Committee is recommending the Bill be passed. "The Bishops are committed to the understanding of marriage shared by societies for centuries, that marriage is the unique reality of a man and woman in a public, committed relationship with the natural potential to produce children," a statement reads. "The Bishops welcome the Select Committee’s recommendation that an amendment to the Bill be included that clarifies beyond doubt the understanding that celebrants who are ministers of religion is not obliged to perform marriage ceremonies for same sex couples if it contravenes their religion."      

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 1st March 2013 - 12:29pm

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